Movie Filmed in Killian CourtBy Eva Moy
The fervor of Hollywood swept MIT off of its feet Monday when MGM Studios began filming its new movie, Blown Away, in Killian Court. Filming will continue in the Boston area until Oct. 1, with the film's release slated for next summer.
The Killian Court footage will be one of the movie's opening scenes, introducing the character played by Jeff Bridges. Bridges plays Jimmy Dove, a member of the Boston Explosives Ordinance Unit. The bomb squad is called to MIT when an employee receives a notice that a bomb will detonate if she stops typing on her computer. Bridges rushes in and defuses the bomb -- all in less than one minute of actual movie time.
News Office Associate Director Robert C. DiIorio emphasized that the plot does not directly involve MIT or Commencement, but the "threat is directed at an individual who happened to work at MIT."
Five thousand chairs and several hundred extras were on hand, including about 30 MIT staff members and students, according to Gayle M. Fitzgerald, manager of conference services. The extras played MIT students and their parents, interrupted during Commencement exercises. The extras also included real campus police, Boston police, firemen, and bomb squad members.
The movie crew shot at Copley Square yesterday, where a car was blown up. Other scenes will include Fenway Park and the firework display from the last Fourth of July, DiIorio said.
Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Dove's nemesis, will join the filming in September, Fitzgerald added.
"I was quite impressed with the level of professionalism exhibited by the MGM cast and crew, and their genuine concern for our satisfaction with their portrayal of campus. The producers have a real appreciation for MIT," Fitzgerald said.
Community watches, participates
"We did not encounter any problems and in fact have had quite a positive response from the community. My assessment was that filming provided a nice morale booster and out-of-the-ordinary experience for all," Fitzgerald said.
"I have received a few calls from people complaining about our supporting bombs ... [but] the movie is about the men and women of the Boston bomb squad who risk their lives every day to prevent the destruction that bombs inflict and in no way condones any type of bombs," she added.
Azeem J. Robinson, an actor, aspiring filmmaker, and LaVerde's employee, was excited to be chosen by MGM as a paid extra. It was his "biggest project, as far as Hollywood." Robinson worked near Bridges, but "when you're on the set and working, it's not very professional to walk over and ask for autographs," he said. Robinson also talked with some of the technical staff about the cameras and equipment.
Although most extras were screened by MGM, others were people who "showed up at the right time," said Michael T. Ford '96, who played an extra. "I was supposed to stand there and pretend I was watching a bunch of policemen and firemen run into a building," he said. "It was kind of fun. It'll be neat when the movie comes out."
John H. Lyons, an administrative assistant, walked past the trailer trucks at the end of the day and saw the equipment and costumes that the filming cast and crew had used. "It was fascinating -- to see it and realize this is what it takes to make a movie that we see for granted."
Much planning involved
The Massachusetts Film Office initially approached DiIorio about the feasibility of the project. After another meeting and after MIT was satisfied that the filming would be a positive experience, consent was given, Fitzgerald said.
MIT was appropriately compensated for direct expenses and the use of facilities, Fitzgerald added.
MGM worked with the state and the Metropolitan District Commission to block off Memorial Drive. Campus Police Lt. James P. Cappucci, Physical Plant Route Supervisor Norman H. Magnuson, Jr., and Assistant Director for Programs Ted E. Johnson also helped oversee the process during filming.
The campus police played a peripheral role, providing security details and crowd control, according to Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin. MGM also used a Campus Police cruiser for the day, and Boston and State Police were on site.
"I heard very good feedback from the officers," Glavin said. She added that at one point, Bridges realized that a real Campus Police officer was standing near him, and brought him into the view of the camera in the scene.